The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

March 11, 2014

Teen fatally shoots best friend

Handgun discharges during showing at Oakboro home

By Ritchie Starnes, News Editor

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 — An Albemarle man was accidentally shot and killed by his best friend, according to Oakboro Police Chief Joe Lowder.

William Hughes, 20, was shot in the head when a 40-caliber handgun discharged, Lowder said. Andrew Talbert, 19, was handling the handgun at the time of the shooting and while in the company of three friends at his home.

“It appears Mr. Talbert was showing them the handgun when it accidentally went off,” Lowder said.

Hughes was taken to Stanly Regional Medical Center where he later died, Lowder said.

The shooting occurred 10:30 p.m. Friday when friends gathered at 631 E. 1st St., Oakboro, the residence of Talbert’s mother, Lowder said.

Lowder described Hughes and Talbert as best friends, adding that the two grew up and played athletics together.

“It is a sad and tragic event,” Lowder said.

“It appears that the men gathered at the residence were all best friends and had grown up together in Stanly County.”

Interviews of the friends present during the shooting were taken at the Sheriff’s Office after the shooting with the assistance of the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, according to Sheriff Rick Burris.

“Our investigation is continuing and our info will be turned over to the District Attorney for his review and determination if any charges are to be filed,” Lowder said.

Investigators are awaiting autopsy results, Lowder said.

A spokeswoman for District Attorney Reece Saunders said Monday that the prosecutor was aware of the shooting, but had not reviewed any of the findings. He was in Richmond County on Monday.

Hughes, an Albemarle High graduate, is the son of Doug and Martha Hughes. Martha Hughes is a councilwoman for the city of Albemarle.

William Hughes was an active member at First Lutheran Church where his family attended, according to Pastor John Futterer.

“It has been devastating for our parish to lose Will Hughes,” Futterer said, adding that the victim was personal friends with his family. Futterer’s daughter graduated in the same class as William Hughes.

“He was such a happy person, always smiling and always upbeat,” Futterer said.

“He was a willing volunteer for any church projects and programs and always added to the joy of any parish event. Everyone who knew Will loved him, he just had that kind of personality.”

Futterer said the Hughes family is active with the church, which is supporting the family during their loss.

“They are getting through these days because of their faith, their family and their many friends,” he said.

“We pray for all the families involved in this tragic event, and ask that God’s love and peace would be given to them in abundance.”

This marks the county’s second accidental shooting that resulted in death in less than three months.

On Dec. 26, 2013, Robert Lee Sides, 63, a retired Marine and gun enthusiast, shot himself in the leg with a handgun outside his Albemarle home. The shot severed his femoral artery, causing Sides to bleed to death within only minutes.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie Starnes at (704) 982-2121 ext.28 or email